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Introduction to Func and Group with SQLAlchemy

SQLAchemy is a powerful ORM for python, and is quite common in the Flask and Pyramid communities. It is installable via a simple:

pip install sqlalchemy

I’m going to use an in memory database just to play with, and to connect it we use create_engine supplied by SQLAlchemy

>>> from sqlalchemy import create_engine
>>> engine = create_engine('sqlite:///:memory:', echo=True)

Next I’m going to use Declarative, which is a set of directives that creates classes and define tables relative to that class. We’ll use a base class which has a listing of all the classes and tables and is called a declarative base. SQLAlchemy provides one of these ready for use.

>>> from sqlalchemy.ext.declarative import declarative_base
>>> Base = declarative_base()

Now lets look at the model we’re going to play with. We’ll be pulling in some class from SQLAlchemy that represent the components and datatypes of our tables.

>>> from sqlalchemy import Column, Integer, String, Float
>>> class User(Base): 
...     __tablename__ = 'users'   
...     id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
...     name = Column(String)
...     fullname = Column(String)
...     balance = Column(Float)
...     group = Column(String)
...     def __init__(self, name, fullname, balance, group):
...    = name
...             self.fullname = fullname
...             self.balance = balance
...    = group

Now let’s have the declarative base use the engine to build our table.

>>> Base.metadata.create_all(engine)

Okay now that we have a Model and a table and they are connected, we can add some data.

>>> user1 = User('Bob', 'Big Bob', 1000000.00, 'Mob')
>>> user2 = User('Linda', 'Linda Lu', 100.50, 'Diner')
>>> user3 = User('Lil Bob', 'Bobby Jr', 100500.00, 'Mob')
>>> user4 = User('Rachael', 'Rachael Rach', 125.50, 'Personal')

Next, we want to save this data and to do that safely, we’ll need a session. We import the sessionmaker and bind it to our engine. After that, we create an instance of the session that we can use.

>>> from sqlalchemy.orm import sessionmaker
>>> Session = sessionmaker(bind=engine)
>>> db = Session()

Now let’s add our users to the sessions and commit/save them to the database.

>>> db.add(user1)
>>> db.add(user2)
>>> db.add(user3)
>>> db.add(user4)
>>> db.commit()

Okay finally, we can do some querying and play with grouping. To get all the user objects we could just do the following:

>>> db.query(User).all()

We can iterate though them and display useful data by doing.

>>> for user in db.query(User).all():
...     print, user.balance
Bob 1000000.0
Linda 100.5
Lil Bob 100500.0
Rachael 125.5

But what if we wanted a total of the balance by Group the user is in? To do that we need some more pieces from SQLAlchemy. Namely, we want to get a func class that will give us access to math based functions and label to let us label the returned data.

>>> from sqlalchemy import func
>>> from sqlalchemy.sql import label

Okay, now we can put this all together to get a list of groups, how many people are in the group, and what the groups aggregated balance is.

>>> db.query(,
...     label('members', func.count(,
...     label('total_balance', func.sum(User.balance))).group_by(

Remember that all fields you want to return in this type of query must use an aggregation function like count or be included in the group_by fields. The above query returns the results below.

[(u'Diner', 1, 100.5), (u'Mob', 2, 1100500.0), (u'Personal', 1, 125.5)]

And of course, we can also save them to a results list and print them out nicer. Notice how we can use the label names we access earlier to access that data.

>>> results = db.query(,
...     label('members', func.count(,
...     label('total_balance', func.sum(User.balance))).group_by(

>>> for result in results:
...     print "%s has %i members with a balance of %d" % (, result.members, result.total_balance)
Diner has 1 members with a balance of 100
Mob has 2 members with a balance of 1100500
Personal has 1 members with a balance of 125

The full code from the example is available at this Gist.